Join Club

Here’s How Your Tax Dollars Are Spent in Arlington County

With budget planning in full swing and tax season looming near, you may be wondering what Arlington County is paying for with your tax dollars.

County officials are currently hammering out the details for the next fiscal year’s budget, which the County Board is slated to adopt on Saturday, April 17 and which will go into effect on July 1. The proposed $1.36 billion budget, which County Manager Mark Schwartz calls a “transition” budget, includes a COVID-19 contingency fund and $16.4 million in cuts.

And while the pandemic forced some revisions to the current 2020-21 budget, the pandemic has not changed the different buckets of spending by the county — from Arlington Public Schools to the Department of Parks and Recreation — and what proportion of the general fund these sectors receive.

Local taxes represent 83% of Arlington County’s overall general fund revenue. That includes the taxes you pay on real estate, vehicles, restaurant bills, retail sales, hotel stays, and if you run a business, taxes on business or occupational licenses. For next year, local tax revenue is projected to exceed $1.1 billion, increasing only $1.1 million from last year’s adopted budget, according to Arlington County’s 2022 master budget document.

In this year’s budget, about $795 million comes from real estate taxes. Levied on homes as well as apartments and commercial properties, these taxes make up the lion’s share (59%) of general fund revenue.

This year, homeowners should expect to see their bills increasing due to rising property values, although Schwartz is proposing keeping the $1.013 per $100 property tax rate flat, as he did last year. Real estate assessments showed an overall growth of 2.2% with an increase among residential properties of 5.6% and a 1.4% decline in commercial assessments.

Other revenue sources are utility rates for water and sewage; fees, like those set by the parks department; permits and fines; state and federal contributions; and some leftover money after previous budget cycles.

Where does the money go?

The county’s general fund expenditures are divided into three large buckets: county services, schools and the capital fund. In the current budget, the county services bucket — which includes a $48 million contribution to Metro — accounts for $817 million. APS received $524.6 million from the general fund and the capital fund received $3.8 million (the rest comes from carryover balances and bonds).

In the current fiscal year, the school transfer covers about 78% of APS’s total expenses, the largest share of which, accounting for nearly 78%, goes to salary and benefits costs.

Excluding schools, of the nine overall departments or sectors receiving county funding, some are almost completely funded by local taxes, while others receive more support from federal and state support or other sources of revenue.

For example, taxes fund about 90% of the budget going toward public safety, which accounts for 11% of the county’s expenses. Within that, local tax support chips in $71 million of Arlington County Police Department’s $72 million budget.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Environmental Services, with a budget of $109 million, only received half of its funding from local taxes.

Like Arlington Public Schools, many county departments, regardless of size, cite personnel as the biggest annual expense. Some examples of this include police and fire (~88%), the Department of Parks and Recreation (~70%), and the Department of Human Services (~54%).

And while the budget keeps growing each year, and tax contributions along with it, not every department is benefiting from increases. Police funding is poised to decrease by nearly $1 million in 2022, and other sectors seeing decreases in Schwartz’s proposed budget include county libraries and the Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management.

After peaking in the 2019 fiscal year at nearly $38 million, tax support for Arlington Sheriff’s Office has been on a slight decline, reaching $35 million this year. It receives 22% of its budget from state and federal sources.

Some county departments have seen upticks in taxpayer support over the last two or three years.

One smaller-scale department that jumped up in expenses was the Office of the Electoral Board and Voter Registration, which had to hire additional coordinators for the presidential election and to handle absentee voting.

An influx of tax support is going toward the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Office of the Public Defender as it adds staff to handle the implementation of the police body-worn camera program.

Taxpayers are also paying for additional personnel in the wake of Amazon’s anticipated arrival. The Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development and the Department of Environmental Services have each hired more staff to handle increases in workload for permitting, engineering and transportation work caused in part by Amazon’s HQ2 and the development it has spurred.

Photos via Arlington County

Recent Stories

After nearly four decades, Rincome Thai is set to serve its last pad thai this month. The Columbia Pike mainstay is closing up shop in the coming weeks, co-owner Mihee…

Nearly six months after a rideshare vehicle plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts, seriously injuring several patrons and sparking a devastating fire, work is starting on its eventual reopening. Following roof…

Much has been written about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and what that means for the platform. One thing we know for sure is all that drama caused interest in…

Morning Notes

Parenthood Is Expensive in Arlington — “Parents in Arlington County with young children are spending about 15.8 percent of their income on child care, according to a new report that…

Need help dealing with anxiety, depression or stress?

If you’re struggling to cope with anxiety, depression or stress, our virtual psychotherapy services can help. We offer a confidential and convenient service that’s tailored to your needs.

In our practice, cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) is an important tool we use to provide effective relief for those facing anxiety and depression. We believe that cognitive change can be used to improve behaviors and emotions, thus allowing you to achieve mental wellness. By understanding the cognitive distortions that lead to negative thought patterns, we are able to create interventions tailored to each of our clients. This empowering approach can help you gain control of how your own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors impact your experience. With CBT, our service provides an effective treatment that can bring long-term change and mental stability.

Book a free consultation today and see how we can help you live a happier and healthier life.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

St. Charles offers a play-based curriculum in a welcoming, Christ-centered environment.

Our program focuses on socio-emotional development and kindergarten readiness through hands-on and engaging activities. Our programs offer different schedules ranging from 7:30 am-5:30 pm for students, ages 2-5. We feature a full-day Jr. kindergarten class for older 4’s/5’s. Our facility includes a full-sized gymnasium, school chapel, and library. All of our students enjoy music and physical education weekly. Children have an opportunity to participate in enrichment classes such as soccer, basketball, ballet, and science.

We offer Summer Camp with weekly themes and twice a week water play, including Fun Friday moon bounce. Please join us for our Open House Feb. 3 at 9:30 am and 11:00 am. Click here to sign-up.

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at www.stcharlesarlington.org or call (703) 527-0608.

Submit your own Announcement here.

Almost, Maine

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, join us for a series of vignettes that revolve around the theme of love. Taking place in an almost-town called Almost, Maine, we will show you different, but important, facet of love in each

First-time Moms Meet & Greet

The truth, your first pregnancy and new mom months are full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and lots of questions! None of us really know the best way to do it – we just figure it out, together…

×

Subscribe to our mailing list